20 Impressive Health Benefits of Parsley

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Sarah Pledger (M.S., R.D.)

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Parsley is an incredible green herb that helps prevent cancer, manage diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Including it in your diet can also help you prevent osteoporosis, given that it has anti-inflammatory properties. It also provides relief from gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating, and nausea. Parsley is looked upon for boosting the immune system as well.

What is Parsley?

Parsley is an herb that came from the Mediterranean region of southern Italy, Algeria, and Tunisia. It is scientifically known as Petroselinum hortense and Petroselinum crispum. It is used as an herb, a green leafy vegetable, and as a spice in its fresh and dried form. It is consumed in many different ways, including garnishing, salads, stocks, and sandwiches. Actually, both the leaf and the root are used in Mediterranean and European cuisines. The leaf is further divided into two more types: curly leaf and flat-leaf.

Parsley, a predominantly tropical plant, needs moisture and ample sunlight to grow. The root form is a new addition, which only began to be cultivated about 300 years ago, and was first grown in Hamburg, Germany. Nowadays, root parsley is steadily becoming more popular. The root is high in vitamin C and a good source of iron and can be cooked similar to other root vegetables such as carrots and turnips. They go great in salads, stews, soups or soften and pureed into sauces.

Nutrition Facts

Parsley, fresh
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]87.71
Energy [kcal]36
Protein [g]2.97
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.79
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]6.33
Fiber, total dietary [g]3.3
Sugars, total [g]0.85
Calcium, Ca [mg]138
Iron, Fe [mg]6.2
Magnesium, Mg [mg]50
Phosphorus, P [mg]58
Potassium, K [mg]554
Sodium, Na [mg]56
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.07
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]133
Thiamin [mg]0.09
Riboflavin [mg]0.1
Niacin [mg]1.31
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.09
Folate, DFE [µg]152
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]421
Vitamin A, IU [IU]8424
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.75
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1640
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.13
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.3
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.12
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Parsley Nutrition

As per USDA, the nutrients found in fresh parsley include vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium. It is a good source of vitamin A, K, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, and zinc.

It is also a very good source of volatile compounds such as myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. Its leaves contain energy, carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Health Benefits of Parsley

Let’s take a look at the top health benefits of parsley, in detail, below:

Rich Source of Antioxidants

Parsley contains several flavonoid antioxidants including luteolin, apigenin, lycopene, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene.

The British Journal of Nutrition published a study that suggests that parsley helps protect the cells from free radical damage. This free radical damage increases the risk of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular problems, and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, parsley may have a role in helping prevent many of these chronic diseases.

Promotes Kidney Cleanse

Research published in 2002 revealed that parsley is rich in antioxidants and vitamins that help cleanse the kidneys naturally. For many centuries now, it has been used as a diuretic that helps against kidney stones, gallbladder stones, bladder infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

You can have parsley in many ways like including it as an herb in dishes, parsley tea, vegetable juices with parsley, or parsley lemon water. The roots of the herb are also very useful in counteracting kidney stones.

Reduces Water Retention (Edema)

A 2013 study states that parsley has diuretic properties, which help in providing relief from bloating, edema, or water retention. If you are afflicted by this condition, a few teaspoons of its juice can provide some quick relief.

Also, the juice is an excellent natural remedy to counteract the electrolyte and mineral lowering effects of over-the-counter chemical diuretics. Potassium is one of the main minerals lost with over-the-counter diuretic use.

Parsley, with its rich potassium content, helps you avoid the undesirable side effects of a mineral imbalance.

A bunch of parsley on a dark background

Fresh parsley Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Weight Loss

Parsley is a nutrient-dense herb, which is low in calories. A research study conducted on the effects of parsley on cadmium neurotoxicity suggests that it also helps boost metabolism. A healthy metabolism paves way for a quicker and healthy weight loss. Moreover, parsley also removes excess water from the body and cleanses the kidneys and liver. This, in turn, keeps the body’s functioning at its optimal level and helps with weight loss.

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Anti-inflammatory Properties

Parsley has traditionally been used in the Mediterranean region for toothaches, bruises, insect bites, and rough skin. According to the American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Urology, parsley has anti-inflammatory and anti-hepatotoxicity properties. These properties help reduce internal inflammation and also help cleanse the liver.

Skin Care

Parsley is abundant in vitamin C and antioxidants. It has potent collagen producing and skin lightening properties. The herb helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes and scars. Parsley also has the ability to balance oil production and hence, is an excellent remedy for acne.

For an effective acne mask, mix a few sprigs of parsley, 2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar, and a tablespoon of honey in a blender. This will help to soothe and soften your skin.

Manages Diabetes

Parsley contains a flavonoid called myricetin, which can lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. A research study conducted showed evidence that diabetic rats that were given parsley actually showed a decrease in their blood sugar levels over a period of a month. Traditionally, it was used as a medicine for diabetes in Turkey.

Boosts Digestion

Including parsley in your diet helps stimulate digestion because of its enzyme and fiber content. Enzymes help in better nutrient absorption and improve the digestion of proteins and fats in the body. The herb also helps cleanse the gastrointestinal tract and maintain overall health.

Reduces Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Parsley has also been particularly effective against rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin C and beta-carotene found in the herb possess anti-inflammatory properties that help in controlling arthritis and reducing arthritic pain. Consuming parsley juice or tea regularly is also believed to speed up the process of uric acid removal, which has been linked to symptoms of arthritis.

Anticancer Properties

Apigenin, a flavone in parsley, prevents the progression of cancer and halts tumor growth. According to research published in Oncotarget, apigenin inhibited an enzyme, which caused the multiplication of cancer cells. The herb was found especially helpful in preventing prostate, colorectal, and colon cancer. Both, fresh and dried parsley, have high levels of apigenin.

Also, parsley oil extract contains a compound called myristicin, which is a phenylpropane. A preliminary investigation into the effects of myristicin on laboratory rats revealed that it has anti-carcinogenic properties as it counteracts free radicals in the body.

Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis

Parsley, with its high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, B-vitamins, and calcium can help boost bone health. It helps prevent osteoporosis and maintain optimal bone health even as we age. The B vitamins also help reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the body, which can weaken bones.

Relieves Flatulence

Parsley helps to relieve flatulence and colic, due to its carminative action. The root, the herb, as well as the essential oil, can boost bile production and gastric juices. This gives a much-needed boost to the digestion process and alleviates gas, constipation, bloating, indigestion, and nausea. The essential oil can also be applied to the stomach area for relief from cramps. Parsley has been used as a natural remedy for acid reflux since it settles the stomach and aids in digestion.

Boosts Immunity

The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in parsley are helpful for strengthening immunity. Vitamins such as vitamin C, A, K, folate, and niacin, each act on different aspects of the immune system. Vitamin A acts directly on lymphocytes or white blood cells, thereby increasing their effect. The chlorophyll contained in it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well. Studies have also shown that the herb contains antioxidant properties and antibacterial properties, making it an ideal source for various home remedies.

Improves Brain Health

Apigenin, a potent flavone in parsley, improves neuron formation and enhances brain functions such as memory and learning. This plant compound is being researched for its ability to help against neurodegenerative diseases like schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. The herbal extract is known to increase cognitive performance as well as improve alertness and memory.

Parsley also appears to have a protective effect on brain function as it was found to protect mitochondria in the brain from oxidative damage. A research study in 2009 found that parsley leaf extract had a protective effect on the mitochondria function.

Antibacterial & Antifungal Properties

Parsley has enzymes that are antibacterial and antifungal in nature. It has an inhibitory effect against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause boils, skin infections, cellulitis, and severe conditions like pneumonia and meningitis.

Pain Relief

Parsley has high levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which heals bruises and reduces pain. For a home-made remedy for bruises, you can crush the fresh leaves, spread it over the afflicted area, and secure the salve with a bandage. Also, lactating women use herbal leaves as a poultice to reduce breast tenderness.

The herb also helps reduce joint pain, fatigue, and has the ability to soften stiff muscles, because of the presence of a potent antioxidant, quercetin. It is especially good for people suffering from arthritis and joint problems. You can also use parsley juice to relieve toothaches and earaches.

Relieves Symptoms of Anemia

The high concentration of iron in parsley helps treat anemia. Vitamin C in the herb aids in better absorption of iron. People who have a hard time taking iron supplements are often told to have its juice or tea.

Helps Eliminate Bad Breath

Chewing a few sprigs of parsley helps fight bad breath or halitosis. The herb’s fresh flavor and high chlorophyll content help freshen the breath temporarily. This is probably why it has been used, since ancient times, as a natural mouth freshener.

Heart Health

Parsley is abundant in flavone antioxidants, which can reduce oxidative stress, thus boost cardiovascular health. This herb also contains high levels of vitamin B and folic acid that prevents the thickening of artery walls. Also, potassium in the herb lowers blood pressure, which helps prevent heart diseases and strokes.

Balances Hormones

Parsley helps improve the hormonal balance in women, enhances their libido, and boosts the secretion of the estrogen hormone. Intake of the herb helps balance hormonal disorders like premenstrual syndrome, menopause, or delayed menstruation cycle. Furthermore, tea made from the herb helps reduce menstrual cramps and discomfort.

Eye Health

Parsley is abundant in vitamin A, and antioxidants like carotenoid as well as beta-carotene, which helps boost eye health. It helps protect the retina from damage and prevents macular degeneration as well as cataracts. The nutrients in the herb also help reduce eye puffiness and dark circles.

Hair Care

The paste made from powdered seeds of this plant has long been used as a natural remedy for hair lice, dandruff, and scalp irritation. It also helps strengthen weak hair, promote healthy hair growth, and stops hair fall. The nutrients in this powerful herb can help increase keratin and collagen production, which protects the hair from free radical damage. Also, a parsley rinse can help retain hair color since it has high levels of copper.

How to Use Parsley?

  • Garnish: You can use parsley leaves to garnish any savory dish like pasta, soups, and various roasts.
  • Soups & salads: You can add fresh parsley to vegetable soups/salads while making them or you can add them on top of the soups before serving them.
  • Juice: Parsley juice on its own can be too potent, but you can add it to other smoothies like pineapple, tomato, and cucumber juice for a rich flavor.

Fresh and dried parsley can both be used for adding flavor to various food preparations.

Side Effects

Having parsley, especially in large quantities, may have side effects and disadvantages. Some of them include the following:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Avoid excess intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Excess intake may induce uterine contractions during pregnancy.
  • Oxalate over-consumption: It has a high quantity of oxalates, which can be particularly problematic for people who suffer from kidney stones or gout.
  • Rash and other allergies: It may make the skin extra sensitive to the sun and lead to a rash.

History

Parsley has been cultivated by man for more than 2,000 years and was highly regarded in Greek culture since it was used in various ceremonies. The Romans also used it in many ways.

Pliny the Elder, a 1st century AD historian, wrote that it was consumed by people from all walks of life. At first, it was used only as a medicinal plant, but later on, it was consumed as a food.

There are many myths and fables associated with the origin and growth of this plant in many Mediterranean and European cultures. The Greeks believed that it had sprung up from the blood of the fallen Greek hero Archemorus. Thus, Greeks started associating it with death and destruction. But in the Middle Ages, parsley was included in folklore medicines and it slowly gained popularity. This is possibly how its image as a health herb developed.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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